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Tennis legend Chris Evert is cancer-free thanks to late sister leaving behind her genetic road map

She said that it was 'only because of the genetic road map my sister left behind and the power of scientific progress' her cancer was detected early.

Tennis legend Chris Evert is cancer-free thanks to late sister leaving behind her genetic road map
International Tennis Hall of Fame 2017 Induction Ceremony - Getty Images | Adam Glanzman

Chris Evert shared the best news with her fans. In an op-ed published on ESPN on January 17, the tennis star announced that she is "cancer-free." She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2021. Evert started by sharing her sister's journey and how it later led to her own diagnosis of ovarian cancer. She wrote, "Jeanne wasn't BRCA positive, but genetic testing revealed she had a BRCA-1 variant that was of "uncertain significance." The doctors didn't recommend genetic testing for me or my siblings, and we stayed focused on Jeanne's treatment," as reported by TODAY.

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Evert lost her sister in February 2020. She said that last November, she received a call in which they asked them to be tested. "I got a call saying they had reclassified her BRCA variant - the significance was no longer uncertain, it was now very clearly pathogenic, and we should be tested," Evert wrote. After giving a blood test, she got a call that she had the same BRCA-1 that her sister had. She wrote, "I immediately scheduled a preventative hysterectomy. But when my pathology report came back, my doctors and I were stunned to find that I had malignant cells and a tumor in my left fallopian tube."

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Chris Evert Lloyd from the United States plays a forehand return against Raffaella Reggi of Italy during their Women's Singles Quarter Final match at the French Open Tennis Championship on 2nd June 1987 at the Stade Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, France. Chris Evert Lloyd won the match 6 - 2, 6 - 2. (Photo by Cole/Allsport/Getty Images)
Chris Evert Lloyd from the United States plays a forehand return against Raffaella Reggi of Italy during their Women's Singles Quarter Final match at the French Open Tennis Championship on 2nd June 1987 at the Stade Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, France. Chris Evert Lloyd won the match 6 - 2, 6 - 2. (Photo by Cole/Allsport/Getty Images)

 



 

 

She said that "only because of the genetic road map my sister left behind and the power of scientific progress" her cancer was detected early. She added that if it had been delayed by even three months, she could have been diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. “Instead, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 ovarian cancer, and I immediately began six rounds of chemotherapy.” Then she shared the happy news, "Today, I'm cancer-free, and there's a 90% chance that ovarian cancer will never come back," she wrote. 

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She went on to say that her journey was not over and she had "one mountain left to climb." Evert wrote, "The risk for me was bigger than ovarian cancer alone. BRCA mutations are associated with an up to 75% risk of developing breast cancer, and an increased risk of prostate and pancreatic cancer as well." On December 1, 2022, she decided to go through a double mastectomy. "I held my breath while I waited for my pathology results. Luckily, the report came back clean and clear, and my risk of developing breast cancer has been reduced by more than 90%," she wrote. 

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She shared that of the 25 million women and men worldwide who have a BRCA mutation, only 10% know they are carriers. So her advice to everyone is: "Trust your gut, know your family history, learn about genetic testing and be your own advocate. There are doctors around the world working on better options for BRCA mutation carriers; in the meantime, own your journey and spread the word," Evert said. 



 

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She said that she has one more surgery to go for to complete reconstruction. She concluded, "They say this part is easy, but I can assure you, the last five years have not been. As relieved as I will be to get to the other side of this, I will always have a heavy heart. I will never heal from losing Jeanne, and I will never take for granted the gift she gave me in the process. My sister's journey saved my life, and I hope by sharing mine, I just might save somebody else's."

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